Final Report from the
Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario

Questions and Answers


  1. Will the government implement the Report’s recommendations?


  2. Will the government do consultations on this report?


  3. The report highlights priority recommendations for early implementation, or “first steps.” Will the government move on those recommendations?


  4. This report calls for $340M in net new benefits for people on social assistance. Will the government act on that recommendation?


  5. Will the government combine OW and ODSP by transferring ODSP to municipalities and First Nations?


  6. Will the government follow the Commission’s advice to eliminate the Special Diet Allowance and reinvest in social assistance rates?


  7. The report says the government should eliminate the ODSP work-related benefit. Will the government do so?


  8. The report calls for more than 30 special benefits in the current system to be “streamlined.” Does that mean there will be cuts to benefits?


  9. The report calls for making some benefits, like drug and dental, available to all low-income Ontarians not just social assistance recipients. Will the government act on this recommendation?


  10. What is the Poverty Reduction — Roots of Youth Violence Results Table, who is part of it and how can the public contact it with questions or concerns?

1. Will the government implement the Report’s recommendations?

The government supports the objectives described in this report, and we are committed to the end goal of reducing poverty by increasing opportunities for Ontarians.

But the report makes it clear there are no simple solutions to successfully transform Ontario’s social assistance programs. Improving the system won’t be easy, and we want to make sure we get it right.

That is why we’re going to take the time, working with our partners, both inside and outside of government, to discuss the implications of transformation, and begin creating a roadmap for success.

And, as we move towards a transformed system, we must take into consideration the current economic challenges facing Ontario.

At this time we will not be making any changes to the rates and benefits. The government’s Poverty Reduction — Roots of Youth Violence Results Table will guide our early actions as part of a renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy so we can have an implementation plan in place in 2013.

2. Will the government do consultations on this report?

Many of the recommendations made by the Commissioners will be challenging for many observers — and, indeed, for government. Clients, stakeholders and other partners will have questions and concerns about how such changes might be implemented.

That is why we’re going to take the time, working with our partners, both inside and outside of government, to discuss the implications of transformation, and begin creating a roadmap for success.

We will also form a working group of community and business leaders and those with lived experience to help inform our path forward.

3. The report highlights priority recommendations for early implementation, or “first steps.” Will the government move on those recommendations?

In the coming months, as we work with partners, we will be taking early steps to make a positive difference in the lives of social assistance clients. This will include:

  • Making improvements to social assistance employment services for those who are able to work. This means trying new ways to help ODSP clients identify their employment goals, and working with them to access the services and supports they need for success.
  • Determining the best ways to streamline the system by introducing more modern and effective service delivery for clients.
  • Working with the employer community on how to better connect those receiving social assistance, including people with disabilities, to the workforce. This means working with our business partners, and engaging employer champions — particularly those that are established leaders in hiring and integrating employees with disabilities.
  • Continuing to involve and inform municipalities and First Nations as we form the basis for a renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy.
  • Looking for other short-term steps that we can take to address immediate barriers to opportunity.
  • And taking measures to improve the system’s integrity and make it more accountable.

We will also form an working group of community and business leaders and those with lived experience to help inform our path forward.

The government’s Poverty Reduction — Roots of Youth Violence Results Table will guide our early actions as part of a renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy so we can have an implementation plan in place in 2013.

The government looks forward to beginning this work and making progress in the coming months towards achieving the objectives outlined in the Commission’s Report.

4. This report calls for $340M in net new benefits for people on social assistance. Will the government act on that recommendation?

The report proposes various options which could lead to a simpler, better organized and better managed, and more sustainable system — something which is essential given the current economic challenges facing Ontario.

But the report makes it clear there are no simple solutions to successfully transform Ontario’s social assistance programs. Improving the system won’t be easy.

That is why we’re going to take the time, working with our partners, both inside and outside of government, to discuss the implications of transformation, and begin creating a responsible roadmap for success.

At this time we will not be making any changes to the rates and benefits. The government’s Poverty Reduction — Roots of Youth Violence Results Table will guide our early actions as part of a renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy so we can have an implementation plan in place in 2013.

5. Will the government combine OW and ODSP by transferring ODSP to municipalities and First Nations?

This report offers a wide range of recommendations and no decisions have been made in this area.

To be clear, many of the recommendations made by the Commissioners will be challenging for many observers — and, indeed, for government. Clients, stakeholders and other partners will have questions and concerns about how such changes might be implemented.

One of the areas we want to focus on is determining the best means to improve the system for clients.

As the Commissioners have stated, reducing poverty in Ontario, and creating a more responsive and effective system will not be easy – and some measures will take years to achieve.

6. Will the government follow the Commission’s advice to eliminate the Special Diet Allowance and reinvest in social assistance rates?

The government supports the objectives described in this report, and is committed to the end goal of reducing poverty by increasing opportunities for Ontarians. At this time we will not be making any changes to the rates and benefits.

In the coming months, as we work with partners, we will be taking early steps to make a positive difference in the lives of social assistance clients. This will include:

  • Making improvements to social assistance employment services for those who are able to work. This means trying new ways to help ODSP clients identify their employment goals, and working with them to access the services and supports they need for success.
  • Determining the best ways to streamline the system by introducing more modern and effective service delivery for clients.
  • Working with the employer community on how to better connect those receiving social assistance, including people with disabilities, to the workforce. This means working with our business partners, and engaging employer champions — particularly those that are established leaders in hiring and integrating employees with disabilities.
  • Continuing to involve and inform municipalities and First Nations as we form the basis for a renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy;
  • Looking for other short-term steps that we can take to address immediate barriers to opportunity.

We will also form a working group of community and business leaders and those with lived experience to help inform our path forward.

The government’s Poverty Reduction — Roots of Youth Violence Results Table will guide our early actions as part of a renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy so we can have an implementation plan in place in 2013.

The government looks forward to beginning this work and making progress in the coming months towards achieving the objectives outlined in the Commission’s Report.

7. The report says the government should eliminate the ODSP work-related benefit. Will the government do so?

This report offers a wide range of recommendations. The sheer volume and scope of the Commission’s recommendations will require time for us to assess. At this time we will not be making any changes to the rates and benefits.

We want to reduce barriers and encourage people, including people with disabilities, to pursue and succeed in their employment goals.

In the coming months, as we work with partners, we will be taking early steps to make a positive difference in the lives of social assistance clients. This will include:

  • Making improvements to social assistance employment services for those who are able to work. This means trying new ways to help ODSP clients identify their employment goals, and working with them to access the services and supports they need for success.
  • Working with the employer community on how to better connect those receiving social assistance, including people with disabilities, to the workforce. This means working with our business partners, and engaging employer champions — particularly those that are established leaders in hiring and integrating employees with disabilities.
  • Looking for other short-term steps that we can take to address immediate barriers to opportunity.

Actions we have already taken to better connect clients to the workforce:

We’ve simplified rules around earnings exemptions so that the more you work, the more money you keep.

We’ve extended drug, dental and vision care benefits for people leaving social assistance for employment.

We’ve increased the maximum deduction for informal child care costs from $390 to $600 per month per child to provide another child care option for working parents.

We’ve exempted earnings for recipients attending post-secondary education full-time.

8. The report calls for more than 30 special benefits in the current system to be “streamlined.” Does that mean there will be cuts to benefits?

This report offers a wide range of recommendations. The sheer volume and scope of the Commission’s recommendations will require time for us to assess.

At this time we will not be making any changes to the rates and benefits. But I can say that we know that social assistance has become overly complicated for people to navigate and is not as responsive as it should be for the people it serves.

That’s why we asked the Commission to find ways to make the system fairer for all clients, easier for them to understand, and more effective at connecting people to jobs.

At this time we will not be making any major changes to the rates and benefits.

Moving forward, we want to determine the best approaches for future rates and benefits.

9. The report calls for making some benefits, like drug and dental, available to all low-income Ontarians not just social assistance recipients. Will the government act on this recommendation?

The government supports the objectives described in this report, and we are committed to the end goal of reducing poverty by increasing opportunities for Ontarians.

But the report makes it clear there are no simple solutions to successfully transform Ontario’s social assistance programs. Improving the system won’t be easy, and we want to make sure we get it right.

That is why we’re going to take the time, working with our partners, both inside and outside of government, to discuss the implications of transformation, and begin creating a roadmap for success.

At this time we will not be making any major changes to the rates and benefits. Moving forward, we want to determine the best approaches for future rates and benefits.

And, as we move towards a transformed system, we must take into consideration the current economic challenges facing Ontario.

The government’s Poverty Reduction — Roots of Youth Violence Results Table will guide our early actions as part of a renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy so we can have an implementation plan in place in 2013.

10. What is the Poverty Reduction — Roots of Youth Violence Results Table, who is part of it and how can the public contact it with questions or concerns?

In 2009, as part of the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, the government established a Results Table to monitor implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Chaired by Minister of Children and Youth Services Eric Hoskins, this committee is made up of Cabinet Ministers, MPPs and external experts. Minister Milloy is a member of the Poverty Reduction — Roots of Youth Violence Results Table.

Questions or comments specifically about social assistance in Ontario should be directed to the Ministry of Community and Social Services.